SEATTLE — It was an intense day in court on Thursday as a convicted killer described how he helped kill six members of a family, including two small children, in a Carnation home on Christmas Eve 2007.
Joseph McEnroe is testifying in the penalty phase of the trial, where a jury will determine whether he should be sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole. The jury convicted McEnroe of murder on March 25.
On Thursday, McEnroe recounted the events of that Christmas Eve night in Carnation more than seven years ago.
“It’s smoky, it smelled of blood and death,” McEnroe said .
McEnroe's defense lawyer contends he is mentally ill and was bullied by his girlfriend, Michele Anderson, to kill her family on the fateful day.
On the stand, McEnroe described the moments after he shot and killed Michele’s parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson. The couple then waited for his girlfriend’s brother, Scott, to show up with his family.
“She (Michele) starts firing on Scott. Scott at the same time goes and gets up and starts charging around the table to where she is at,” McEnroe said.
Scott died fighting for his life, wrestling with Michele, who was still holding the gun, he said.
“I tried to pull him off but I couldn’t pull him off because he was too big,” McEnroe said.
Scott’s wife, Erica, tried to call 911, but McEnroe grabbed the phone, he said.
“I pulled out the batteries and threw it aside,” McEnroe said.
McEnroe said he heard the 911 dispatcher answer the phone before he disconnected the line.
Defense attorney Bill Prestia asked McEnroe why he just didn’t stop at that point.
“I thought we were too far, I’m sorry,” McEnroe said.
He testified that Michele opened fire again, hitting Erica multiple times and Erica's 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, once. The mother and daughter were still alive, however.
Hoping to save her children, Erica begged McEnroe to stop.
He said Erica told him, “We love you, you don’t have to do this.”
But that didn't stop him.
“I shot her first so she didn’t have to watch her children die,” McEnroe said.
He fired two more shots.
“I shot (3-year-old) Nathan first because he was closer, then I shot Olivia,” McEnroe said.
Before he died, little Nathan made a heartbreaking offering.
“He held up the phone batteries and showed it to me,” McEnroe said.
McEnroe testified that Nathan looked like he was accepting what was about to happen.
“Like he understood and understood what was going on,” McEnroe said.
The prosecution contends McEnroe murdered the Anderson family because of money. McEnroe says his girlfriend tricked him into killing a loving family.
“Because she was jealous, because she felt entitled,” McEnroe said.
He said she broke him down and trained him to be obedient.
“She treated me like an attack dog, a guard dog,” McEnroe said.
McEnroe said he wants redemption. He said he knows he will never balance the scales but he wants to do good deeds in prison.
Family members of the victims walked out of the courtroom during a portion of McEnroe’s testimony. The gruesome details were too hard to hear.
The state will cross-examine McEnroe on Tuesday.
Michele Anderson's murder Ktrial will be held later.